North Carolina hopes to earn more revenue by broadening its Sponsor-A-Highway program, which expands on traditional litter and clean-up programs under the Adopt-A-Highway banner, as shown here.

BRADENTON, Fla. - As funding declines for roads and highways, the North Carolina Board of Transportation decided to allow private sponsors to pay for programs in return for advertising benefits.

The board approved a policy Sept. 4 establishing the new service, which expands on the existing Sponsor-A-Highway litter removal program already in operation by the Department of Transportation.

An organization, business or individual can support the maintenance, operation or enhancement of an NCDOT program, service or facility through monetary payments or voluntary activity.

In return, a sign or plaque acknowledging the sponsorship can be installed at an appropriate location.

"The demands on our transportation infrastructure are rapidly increasing, making it difficult to fund needed improvements through our traditional revenue sources alone," said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. "Through private sponsorships, we can more fully leverage the opportunities our transportation system has to offer and gain additional resources that will help ensure North Carolina's future success."

Sponsors can sign up to pay for a private litter company to maintain certain areas. Other sponsorship opportunities will be available for assistance patrols, ferries and ferry system support facilities, traveler information services such as 511, rest areas and welcome centers, highway beautification, smartphone applications, weigh stations, and print and electronic publications.

A sponsorship oversight committee will manage the program, and set prices for sponsorship opportunities. Committee appointments will be announced soon, according to NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott.

Abbott said it is difficult to project how much revenue the new program could attract because the extent of the interest is unknown.

"In some other states, sponsorships have brought in more than $1 million, but again we can't say that would happen here yet," he said.

A number of states have similar programs offering different sponsorship opportunities.

As an example, Iowa and Nevada have sponsor programs for rest areas and rest stops. Florida offers sponsorships for state highways, interchanges, interstate highways, rest areas, and roadside parks.

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